Skills a Good Fleet Manager must have
In a logistics company or a transportation company, fleet managers play a pivotal role. Fleet managers are responsible for selecting and maintaining vehicles in order to keep deliveries and distributions on schedule and within established budgets. In order to succeed, fleet managers need significant experience and skills in operations, logistics and software programs to monitor both fleets and drivers.
It’s important to keep in mind that the fleet manager is a crucial part of the modern business. Companies in many industries, from service providers to landscapers, rely on vehicles to deliver products and services to customers. Those vehicles and their drivers must be properly managed.
Fleet managers can enjoy long and interesting careers, but they do require certain skills to thrive in their industries. Here are some of the skills that the best fleet managers must possess that make them a good fit for the job:
The ability to Multi-Task
The best fleet managers are “jugglers.” They need to balance everything to make the fleet program work efficiently. Drivers want one thing, suppliers suggest something else, management has a variety of focus areas (fuel economy, safety, depreciation, image, etc.), and everyone is an expert about which manufacturer makes the best product. The great fleet managers are those who are able to juggle these demands. As one fleet manager said, if you are not capable of juggling 18 chainsaws at once, your time as a fleet manager will be limited.
Good Time Management Skills
A great fleet manager must be a master of time management. A fleet manager’s customers range from upper management to drivers in the field. You have to manage your time to satisfy corporate and driver needs, while completing your own work to keep the fleet running smoothly. A great fleet manager has the discipline in day-to-day tasks to focus on the important without being consumed by the urgent.
Goal-Oriented Fleet Management
Great fleet managers are goal setters. They are goal-oriented in all aspects of fleet management and employ metrics to continually benchmark productivity, vehicle downtime, fleet utilization, and effective management of both fixed and operating costs. Great fleet managers are committed to achieving specific results and govern their operations with these results in mind. It is this results-orientation that pushes a great fleet manager to be creative in addressing daunting challenges.
Adaptable to all kinds of changes
The fleet manager role has changed over the past 20 years as fleet department staffs disappeared, outsourcing became more prevalent, and procurement groups began playing a greater role in fleet sourcing. While good fleet managers adapt to change, great fleet managers thrive because of it and are willing to recommend change — even if it impacts them negatively. Fleet is ever-changing and great fleet managers adapt to the change instead of fighting it.
Great fleet managers never stop learning. They regularly attend fleet management seminars and read industry publications to keep pace with best practices. They are active members in industry associations. Plus, they are motivated to attain professional certifications. They not only focus on professionally developing themselves, but also their direct reports, customers, senior management, and team members in fleet management and industry best practices. A continual learner has a constant thirst for knowledge and does not hesitate to share new-found information with colleagues.
Very fine Communication Skills
This trait involves a high level of communication skills that allows the fleet manager to clearly communicate at all levels — both written and oral. In terms of writing skills, this includes the ability to be brief and to the point, which is especially important for senior management presentations.
Great fleet managers have the ability to conceptualize an idea and communicate it. They can persuasively articulate thoughts to others, at any level of management. They have senior management’s respect, because they can communicate a strong knowledge of fleet management, which gives them credibility when proposing new programs.
Concept of Leadership
A great fleet manager is able to lead and coach not only the fleet team, but also drivers and multiple management levels. Being a fleet leader is more about serving than being served. A leader does not fear change. A great fleet manager is committed to leadership by example. A great fleet manager is able to inspire a team toward a common purpose or vision. In addition, they must possess a passion for success and understand they are a role model.
A great fleet manager values idea, respects team member contributions, and creates a learning atmosphere within their organization that rewards individual accomplishment.
High Ethical Standards
To be a great fleet manager, you must maintain very high ethical standards. You need to be honest to the core, even if it means acknowledging a mistake, which could cost your job. Fleet managers must be ethical, fair, and value each team member’s occasional challenges to their authority. These fleet managers are identified by everyone who deals with them as having unwavering integrity.
Great ability to Make Decisions
Great fleet managers possess the ability to make decisive decisions, large and small. When on the spot, they have the confidence and knowledge to make those decisions. Daily phone calls and e-mails bring numerous small problems that need to be resolved, requiring a fleet manager to have the ability to think on their feet, make decisions, and act quickly. They make quick, calculated, cost-effective, and fact-based decisions and do not look back.
Must have knowledge about Automotive Trends and Equipment in the Fleet
These fleet managers know when totally redesigned versions of the cars and trucks on their selectors will debut so they can cycle out as many of the “old” models to optimize resale. This fleet manager is up-to-date on the status of their fleet. They instantly know how many of what type of vehicles are located where and why.
They are also in tune with how the driver base, HR, risk management, finance department, and driver management view the fleet operation, and are proactive to rectifying concerns or misperceptions.